The Belgian defender stepped in to cover for the ill Per Mertesacker yesterday and he had a decent game, looking as though he’d never been out of the Arsenal back four and proving Arsenal have superb cover for the Mertesacker-Koscielny partnership.
The effectiveness that partnership has had this season has created several stories suggesting Vermaelen could be tempted away from Arsenal this winter, with the World Cup looming next summer.
However, he’s said that isn’t the case and insists he is always focused and ready to play for the Gunners when he’s called on by Arsene Wenger.
“Yes. At the moment there is no story. I’m not talking about it - I can keep talking about my situation. I’ve done that with the national team and I keep on reading stories that I want to leave. But that’s not the case. I’m still focused on the team,” he told the Evening Standard.
Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville suggested yesterday that Vermaelen was actually a better player than either player in the Mertesacker and Koscielny partnership.
His core strengths make him well suited to play for Arsenal because he is a defender who likes to stroke the ball out from the back and he does the basics very well as a defensive player.
He reads the game superbly, he anticipates well, he’s a strong player on the floor and in the air and he offers strength through his leadership.
He demonstrates that perfectly with his comments about Arsenal’s title credentials, brushing off the defeat to Manchester United yesterday by keeping everyone connected to Arsenal focused on the positive that the Gunners are still top of the league.
“What I have said is that it is not about my situation but what the team do and I’m really happy that we’re top of the League. Personally I’m still confident I can play for this club and every chance I get I will do a job for this club,” he added.
Vermaelen’s current deal expires in the summer of 2015 and the fact he’s not worried about talking over a new contract suggests that he expects the Gunners to put an offer to him in the near future.
When that happens, there is every chance he’ll sign on the dotted line rather than turn his back on the club.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald